The History of Lynn in 100 Objects: No49, Aguust 30, 2016

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This is a painting of The Ruskin School by Edward Gosling. The artist Edward Gosling was born with no arms, he painted this picture using his feet.

The Ruskin School was founded by Harry Bellerby Lowerison. Lowerison had taught in London and was horrified by the overcrowded classrooms, dirty conditions and the curriculum he was forced to follow. This led him to write My Ideal School, an article in which he outlined his aims and ideals for the perfect school. In the article Lowerison wrote - “I shall establish a school where most of the work could be done in the open air…plain wholesome food, utter cleanliness and healthy exercise, shall be our doctor.”

In 1900 Lowerison opened the Ruskin School in Hunstanton. The school occupied a three storey, balconied house known as ‘The Birdcage.’ In February 1902 the school moved to High House, a large house in Heacham. The house was nicknamed ‘The Wilderness,’ it had a large garden and outbuildings which were converted into classrooms. The school motto was ‘Gentleness and Justice’ – taken from a work by Victorian art critic and prominent social thinker John Ruskin.

The Ruskin School was home to around 30 pupils, aged between 5 -17. Both boys and girls. The day started with a run around the paddock. Lessons took place in the morning, poetry and astronomy were taught. Natural history was central to the curriculum. Students of the Ruskin School kept nature diaries and were encouraged to collect fossils and archaeological material. Some finds were donated to the British Museum others were put on display in the school’s own museum. The afternoons were devoted to sports. Hockey for girls and football and cricket for boys. The school closed in 1926 when Lowerison retired.

Find out more about the Ruskin School in Lynn Museum’s forthcoming exhibition Little Lives: Snapshots of Childhood, 1800 to the Present Day opening 24 September 2016.